After-school STEM program thrives at Kyrene Centennial despite funding cuts - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

After-school STEM program thrives at Kyrene Centennial despite funding cuts

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Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013 12:49 pm

Out on the grass between classroom buildings and the baseball field at Kyrene Centennial Middle School, a group of 7th graders were measuring indoor temperatures of their model homes for an urban heat island project last week.

With just a couple of weeks left for this semester, it was the first time the program continued on its own without funding from its parent Arizona State University program—known as ASU Citizen-Scientist-Engineer at Kyrene after-school program.

“The beginning model was great, this is the most well known after-school program for STEM,” said 7th-grade science teacher at Centennial Melissa Melville.

The school is currently sustaining their program with district tax credit funds, which supports after-school and extracurricular programs and activities.

Under the program, which was funded by Science Foundation Arizona, students got to hear from professionals in science and engineering fields.

Science and engineering students from ASU still volunteer their time, though, providing an aid to teachers.

“The partnership (with ASU) was a great start,” said Melville of the school getting a foot in the door on STEM education.

While measuring temperatures, the students at Centennial that sunny day came to find out how their home designs held up to their different hypotheses. Each using different materials, the students tried to create a model of a home that would be cooler on the inside than on the outside. Some filled their project homes with packing peanuts, polyfill and even shredded paper to test out their theories.

With their trial and error, 7th-grade student Elena Watkins said one of the perks about STEM programs is doing things outside of the normal range of the classroom.

“This gives me something to look forward to,” she said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com. Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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